Empathy, Not Sympathy: How To Help Alcohol Addicts Through Empathy

Empathy, Not Sympathy_ How To Help Alcohol Addicts Through Empathy | HealthSoul

Addiction is not just a constant craving for any substance of your liking. It is more than that. Addiction or, in the formal term, substance use disorder is a chronic relapsing disease manifested by a compulsive behavior of using any legal or illegal substance that can ultimately affect a person’s life. It is a brain condition that, when not treated, can lead to harmful consequences, both for the substance user and their loved ones.

Substances such as marijuana, meth, opioids, nicotine, caffeine, and even prescription drugs are just a few of the many substances used by addicted individuals. In particular, alcohol is one of the most common substances that tends to be abused by many, and its availability in almost every store causes a surge of alcohol addiction cases. If you have a friend or relative with alcohol use issues, you better start looking after them.

One question is how to look after them? One answer is by showing empathy, and there are tons of ways to display it. Empathy happens when we put our perspective on that of others and see the world through their eyes. Only then can we genuinely understand alcoholics and eventually help them in their journey to recovery. Read below to know more the many ways to show empathy.

Understand Alcoholism

The best way to show empathy is by giving time and effort to learn the factual truth about alcoholism. Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a problematic alcohol use pattern that leads to clinically significant impairment or distress. This impairment may range from occupational down to familial relationships, and alcohol use is continued despite the person’s knowledge of the physical and psychological problems it entails.

Having basic knowledge about alcoholism and the behaviors it manifests is one step of ensuring proper care for your friends or family members that are suffering from this condition.

Rehabilitation Programs

The word rehabilitation connotes negative thoughts, mostly when it is associated with substance users. It is high time to stop the stigma on alcohol addiction treatment programs and keep an active eye on endorsing it to people who need it most. Giving them the option of rehabilitation is a massive help because it is the beginning of their sobriety journey.

Most rehabilitation programs offer a holistic approach to treating and taking care of their patients. From medical care to psychological and spiritual treatment, every aspect of the illness is considered in rehab. Here, a 360 turn around on the patient’s lifestyle is assured so that recovery may occur. Empathy comes in many ways; rehabilitation is one of it.

Support Groups

Support groups are an additional help for those who want to express their alcoholism stories. What’s fascinating about support groups is that you can invite people, either those in recovery or those who want to sit down and listen. Being surrounded by people who share the same struggles with you while also sharing how they overcome it is one of the best feelings of empathy and empowerment.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a well-known support group that helps people with alcohol dependency. It offers meetings and group sessions that let members, especially new ones, share their stories and hear bits of advice from others. AA also encourages new members to seek out “sponsors” or those who are sober for a long time. In this way, new members are guided throughout their recovery and sobriety journey.

Remember that AA is just part of the whole treatment process and is not the only solution for alcohol problems.

Familial Support

Another way to show empathy is by merely showing up to addicted loved ones. Showing up to them and giving your full support and confidence that they can overcome such struggles is the ultimate gift you can give them. In truth, most alcohol relapse causes are because treatment and care don’t extend at home and from family members. That’s why it is essential to educate ourselves to understand their situation better.

Remember that alcoholism isn’t just the alcoholic’s struggle but a family struggle as well. Al-Anon Family Group is a fellowship for friends and family who share the same battle regarding their alcoholic loved ones. Here friends and family come together and share their stories of struggle, challenges, and hope.

It is just a reminder that family support groups are part of a holistic process in taking care of alcoholic friends or family members and are not considered a sole treatment.

Know Better

If you are having problems with alcohol drinking and are still reading this, you should’ve known better by now. The kinds of help that are stated above are only useful if you are willing to take it. You know yourself better than anyone else and if support is available, take it. Be in control. Be your own empath.


Alcohol problem is a family disease. Not only does it disrupt the alcoholic individual but also their familial relationships as well. Through expressing more empathy and less sympathy, real change is possible. All of us have a responsibility to uphold, and we would rather listen to your stories of recovery than to hear your struggles and difficulties. Seek help, and you’ll receive it.